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Marxism and Psychoanalysis: In or against Psychology?
David Pavón-Cuéllar
Routledge / Softcover / Jan 2017
9781138916586 (ISBN-10: 1138916587)
Psychoanalysis and Politics / Social & Political Issues
reg price: $77.50 our price: $ 73.63 (may be subject to change)
230 pages
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The methods developed by Freud and Marx have enabled a range of scholars to critically reflect upon the ideological underpinnings of modern and now postmodern or hypermodern western societies. In this intriguing book, the discipline of psychology itself is screened through the twin dynamics of Marxism and psychoanalysis. David Pavón-Cuéllar asks to what extent the terms, concerns and goals of psychology reflect, in fact, the dominant bourgeois ideology that has allowed it to flourish.

The book charts a gradual psychologization within society and culture dating from the nineteenth century, and examines how the tacit ideals within mainstream psychology – creating good citizens or productive workers – sit uneasily against Marx and Freud’s ambitions of revealing fault-lines and contradictions within individualist and consumer-oriented structures.

The positivist aspiration of psychology to become a natural science has been the source of extensive debate, critical voices asserting the social and cultural contexts through which the human mind and behaviour should be understood. This challenging new book provides another voice that, in addressing two of the most influential intellectual traditions of the past 150 years, widens the debate still further to examine the foundations of psychology.


"David Pavon-Cuellar provides an impressive account of the Freudian contribution to the critique of capitalism and of the Marxist contribution to the theory of mental apparatus. His engagement with the variety of historical and theoretical attempts to bring together Marxism and psychoanalysis fills a notable gap in the existing scholarship. Most importantly, Pavon-Cuellar reminds us that resistance to capitalism is a laborious process, a process of working through the layers of ideological mystifications of devastation caused by capitalism in all registers of human reality. Resistance of capitalism begins at the level of organization of thought, which means that a critique of economic doctrines is anything but complete without a rigorous critique of psychology." Samo Tomšic, Humboldt University Berlin and author of The Capitalist Unconscious: Marx and Lacan

"This admirable book highlights what is Marxist about psychoanalysis and what is psychoanalytic about Marxism in detailed readings of key figures at the interface of the two traditions. It will be indispensable for future researchers on either side of the false divide between the two." Néstor Braunstein, psychoanalyst, formerly Professor of Psychoanalysis at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico

"Is the road to communism paved by psychoanalysis? If so, comrades of Marx and Freud have to unite against the normalizing forces of psychology. This fascinating book traces an international history of the complex alliance of Marxism and psychoanalysis, reminding us of the stakes of forgotten struggles and inciting us to return to the battlefield of critique." Jodi Dean, author of The Communist Horizon (2012) and Crowds and Party (2016)

Table of Contents

Preface. Introduction: in or against psychology? 1. Marxian Psychologies 2. Marx and Freud 3. From psychoanalysis to psychologisation 4. Psychology and its critique in Marxism 5. Marxist Psychologies 6. Marxism, psychoanalysis and critique of psychology 7. Towards a Critical Metapsychology 8. Critique as praxis

About the Author

David Pavón-Cuéllar is a professor in the Faculty of Psychology at the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Morelia, Mexico. He is a member of the Discourse Unit and belongs to the Editorial Boards of Annual Review of Critical Psychology, Psychotherapy and Politics International, Teoría y Crítica de la Psicología and Revista Marxismos: Educación, Política y Sociedad.

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